Marks & Spencer Breaks New Ground

Discussion
Feb 25, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Marks & Spencer says its new Lifestore concept will “revolutionize the home retail market.” After recent disappointing results, the venerable British retailer may need it
to be just that.


According to The Guardian, “M&S has been plagued by falling popularity. Profits halved as shoppers deserted in their droves and new management was drafted in to revitalise
the dowdy empire. For a while the sales graphs headed north, but in recent months doubts have resurfaced. Christmas sales were dire as shoppers chose to spend instead with rivals
Next and Debenhams, and city analysts and investors fear the recovery has stalled. The Lifestore is the group’s chance to prove that they can haul the chain into the 21st century.”


The 70,000 square-foot store carries more than 12,000 products for the home with items grouped by lifestyle categories such as celebrate, cook, escape, organize, play, relax,
renew and rest. Prices on the inventory range from 50p for a glass to £2,000 for a sofa.


Vittorio Radice, the former chief executive of Selfridges was hired by M&S to breath new life into its home furnishings business. Mr. Radice says the layout of the store
is meant to be a journey of discovery for shoppers.


We are playing to the curiosity of women who will want to walk around the store and see everything,” he said.


The store contains a two-story, two-bedroom, house within it. Lifestore shoppers can purchase the plans for the home designed by the architect John Pawson for £1,000. Honors
for decorating the model home went to Ilse Crawford, a former editor of Elle Decoration.


Moderator’s Comment: Is Marks & Spencer’s Lifestore the revolution in retailing the
company claims it is?


Marks & Spencer’s Web site says Lifestore is based on “the rituals of everyday life rather than retail conventions.” For a virtual tour of Lifestore
with commentary from some of the key players in the concept’s development, click
here
.
George
Anderson – Moderator

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